McCullers tips cap to long-admired Cano

Mariners slugger drives in sole run vs. Astros righty Saturday

McCullers tips cap to long-admired Cano

SEATTLE -- The only run Astros starter Lance McCullers allowed in Saturday's 1-0 loss to the Mariners at Safeco Field came in the sixth inning, when Seattle slugger Robinson Cano muscled a fastball past a drawn-in infield for an RBI single.

It was a frustrating moment for McCullers, but one he couldn't get too upset about considering the track record of the man swinging the bat and the quality of the pitch he made. Sometimes, you make your best pitch and get beat.

"Good hitter, man," McCullers said. "I try not to go back in at-bats and regret things. I threw the fastball by him and had been throwing him a lot of curveballs the last couple of games, and I felt good throwing a fastball there. Got the ground ball I wanted, just a little bit too far to Carlos' [Correa] right. And that was the difference in the game. We had our chances, but sometimes you just lose ballgames, man. Pretty good job over there by their pitching staff today."

McCullers threw 97 pitches in 5 1/3 innings, allowing one run, four hits and four walks while striking out eight batters. He had allowed just two hits through five scoreless innings before Leonys Martin led off the sixth with a triple and scored on Cano's single.

Cano's RBI single

"I struggled a little bit more today with my curveball command than I usually do," he said. "A couple of those walks, I was trying to throw some breaking balls in the zone and I was struggling a little bit today with it. I made good pitches when I had to. I felt in control most of the game.

"Even when there was a guy there on third, I had no question I couldn't get a ground ball and keep him there or get a couple of punch-outs in a row to keep that game at 0-0. ... Kind of muscled the ball through the left side. Dude is getting paid $30 million a year to do that. Sometimes, you make a good pitch and the hitter finds a way."

Mariners manager Scott Servais praised McCullers, saying his team struggled with his breaking ball.

"You've got to get it up, because when it's down, you're not going to hit very many of them," he said. "But Leonys has had some success against him, getting on some fastballs. That was a big triple, and Robbie found a way to get him in, and that was about it today. We did not have a lot of chances."

McCullers grew up in Tampa and was a "lifelong Robinson Cano admirer," watching him routinely in Spring Training while he was with the Yankees. Cano said after the game McCullers had one of the best curveballs in the league, which brought a smile to McCullers' face.

"It was pretty cool, but I'm going to keep throwing it to him," he said.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.